Thursday, February 14, 2013

Updates from the Fitness Divas: A “Glimmer of Hope” for the South Bronx

Over the last year, we’ve written about the Fitness Divas in our blog, newsletter and social media.  These amazing women – Betty Robertson, Wendy Williams, and Darlisa Evans – are an amazing group of community residents from the South Bronx who are committed to physical fitness, improving their parks, and transforming their communities to centers of health and wellness.  The Fitness Divas had an extremely productive 2012 and have plans for an even busier 2013.  Instead of Bronx Health REACH writing updates about their work, we’ve decided that you should hear it first hand from the women themselves. Below are two reflections from Betty and Wendy – what they accomplished and enjoyed in 2012 and their plans for 2013. Please make sure to check back throughout the year to learn more about their exciting work.

Betty Robertson

This is the time of year, when one thinks about where one has come from and where one is going.  Last Spring I joined a neighborhood exercise program. I didn't know what to expect, but I enjoyed getting together with other people in my neighborhood who wanted to improve their health. Our regular workouts consisted of walking to and from various local parks and aerobics classes in the gym of one of the public schools. After the program ended in July, Wendy, Darlisa, and I, the Fitness Divas, decided to continue exercising as a group on our own.  A plan was formed, space was secured, and flyers were handed out.  Yoga was added and our program increased from four to five days a week.  Participants reported weight loss, lowered blood pressure, and improvement of other medical conditions. There were many conversations about things I can and cannot speak about here, but we had fun exercising, discovering, sharing and most importantly, laughing!  Last October, the Divas joined the Jesup Avenue Recreation Center and enrolled in the NYC Department of Parks "Shape Up NYC" program.  In addition to my personal weight loss (which allows me to wear some delectable things!), I loved hearing about other improvements in the areas of blood pressure, medication intake, and overall well being.  I look forward to sharing my interest in exercise and seeing the positive results in others over the next year.

Wendy Williams

Today, I am exercising regularly approximately 5-6 times a week helping myself and others.  My blood glucose levels are stabilizing, I feel stronger and healthier and I've lost 25 pounds.  My knees feel better and better each week and I'm not afraid to take the stairs.  I am a member of the local NYC Parks Department Recreational Center and I'm studying to be a fitness instructor.  I still have some bad days, but my goal is to be the inspiration that Susan and Suneet were for me. These ladies came into the community and gave me a glimmer of hope.  They provided free exercise classes and encouraged utilization of the parks.  Today, I stand victorious, because I will continue to walk, dance, teach and inspire others to stand strong against their obstacles, eliminating barriers to fitness, health, and wellness.  Currently, as part of the Parks Department certification process, I'm teaching low impact aerobics once a week at Westchester Square Partnership.

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